The Tillinghast layout contains three separate 9 hole courses, East, Center and West, that all begin and end at the clubhouse.
Detailed descriptions of the East, Center and West courses are available below.
The Championship Course, a composite of the more difficult holes from the three original nine hole courses, was developed for the PGA Tour Northern Trust (formerly The Barclays) Tournaments. A downloadable description of the 18 Championship holes is available from this link: RCC Championship Course Journal
All course photography by Evan Schiller - https://www.evanschillerphotography.com/
The most inviting of the opening holes at Ridgewood, a relatively straightforward par 4 playing 348 yards from the blue tees, opens the East nine. The fairway has a relatively generous landing space for tee shots, but misdirection is punished by out of bounds on the left and a pond and trees on the right. There is a cross bunker that stretches across the fairway from the left side about 60 yards from the green. The green is challenging; its big surface is well bunkered and slopes steadily and deceptively uphill from left-to-right.
A shot-maker’s par 3, this downhill second hole is played at 161 yards from the blue tees from the back to a green that is protected by bunkers to the left and right side. A narrow band of fairway allows a short tee ball to bounce on to the green. The green slopes back to front and features interesting contours. The two bunkers on the left side are deep and deadly and make it almost impossible to chip close to a pin on the left side of the green.
Tillinghast considered par 5s the most difficult holes to design because he did not want even the best players to be able to reach them in two shots. On this hole he succeeded!
As is often the case with Tillinghast, the most efficient route to the hole is the most dangerous. The best drive favors the left side of the fairway, but out of bounds lines the left side the entire length of the hole and the thin rough encourages the ball’s journey into the woods. Hitting to the right side, away from the out of bounds, may be prudent, but excessive prudence will leave the golfer blocked in a line of oaks.
The all-important second shot must be carried over a minefield of mounds running across the fairway. Once again left is better as the reward on the dogleg right is a shot that crosses only fairway to a long up-sloping green protected on three sides by bunkers.
The third shot challenges the golfer to negotiate a false front and find the correct tier on the narrow and deep undulating, multi-tier green. Golfers following the shorter route from the right side of the fairway must fly a series of bunkers and bring their shot to rest on a narrow green. The lightning-fast green can produce profound disappointment even in those fortunate enough to be on in three shots.
A dangerous dogleg left par 4, out-of-bounds runs the length of the hole on the left side. Once again caution encourages a shot played to the right side of the fairway, but trees and deep rough punish balls played too far to the right. A well-positioned drive to the left center of the fairway is important because the green is very difficult to hold on long approach shots. A green side bunker presents an obstacle for those hitting approach shots from the right side of the fairway. A false front and soft landing area short of the green discourages balls from bouncing on.
The work is not completed until you have holed out as hard-to-read speed and breaks make for a very difficult green.
Playing 407 yards uphill with a left-to-right slope to a “plateau” green, this par 4 requires a strong uphill tee shot to a generous landing area, with bunkers on each side of the fairway. The second shot is played to a plateau green, surrounded by deep bunkers. A well-placed oak tree front-right of the green swats away shots that fail to fly over it or pass to its left.
Missing the green to the hillside or bunker to the left can produce nasty scores as a sharply sloping left to right green makes it almost impossible to bring chip shots to a halt. The severe back to front slope of the green is in evidence as the first 25 feet of the front of the green are part of a false front. Many a ball has come to a halt for 30 seconds or more only to resume its doleful journey to twenty feet off the front of the green.
This green is very deceiving and stopping a putt near the hole is often greeted with profound relief.
At 200-plus yards downhill, this par 3 is “as tough as they get.” 6 East calls for a Goldilocks “just right” shot that is played to a back-to-front sloping green, surrounded by bunkers. The shot plays downhill at 204 yards downhill from the blue tees. A well struck shot is needed to avoid the cross bunker on the right and the small pot bunker on the left, and a bit of luck is needed to influence the ball not to run “hot” to the back of the green away from a front pin placement. The result will be a scarily fast, double breaking downhill putt.
This incredibly tough par 4 is a challenge form start to finish. From the tee box the fairway is to the right and is guarded on the right side by bunkers. Those aiming left or straight at the green face a double hazard. A tee ball that fails to clear or steer around a tree in the left rough will be knocked down and might come to rest in a bunker in front of the tree.
Uphill, this dogleg left sloping, left-to-right to a “plateau” green, 7 East plays like 5 East, only more difficult. This par 4 plays 467 yards from the back tees. It was the most difficult hole for the professionals at the 2008 and 2010 Barclay events. Both the tee shot and the approach to the green play steadily uphill and fall left-to-right. Be sure to take an extra club for the second shot to account for the uphill slope. The plateau green is protected by deep bunkers on the left and to the right. Players playing long irons for their approach shots need to account for a severe left-to-right swing on a very fast and tricky putting surface. A false front sends promising shops cascading back down the fairway. This par 4 often plays like a “tough” par 5 for the average player.
A little “calm after the storm” and maybe a chance for a birdie, this hole is a subtle par 4. The left is wooded and difficult to recover from and the right side rough is deep. After a good drive one can either fly an iron shot and hope to stop on the firm green or play a shot short left of the green and use the left to right pitch of the fairway to bounce on. But too far or too hard to the left and the ball will feed into a greenside bunker. If the bouncing shot is hit at the center or right side of the green, it will feed into another greenside bunker.
A slight rise in the fairway makes judging distance to the flag difficult. The green slopes left-to-right and, unusual for Tillinghast at Ridgewood, from front to back.
A great finishing hole with a direct view of the clubhouse, this is a challenging par 4 that requires an accurate drive with sufficient length to carry past the corner of this slow turning dogleg left to open up a path to the green. The wide entrance to the large, deep, and gently sloping green is protected by four bunkers. The pond on the right can also affect the approach shot and brings the left bunkers into play. This is the largest green of the 27 greens at Ridgewood.
The toughest opening hole at Ridgewood, this classic Tillinghast cape hole begins with a sharp dogleg left requiring a strong drive over a pond that begins just in front of the tee. A classic risk/reward scenario is on offer. The farther left one aims, there is more pond to carry but the reward is a shorter second shot. A very aggressive shot to the left must fly over a tree on a peninsula in the hazard. A shot hit too far over the right center of the pond can fly the fairway and enter deep rough or a line of trees. The bailout area to the right side of the pond is known as “chicken flats.”
A cross bunker on the right side of the fairway further complicates the approach to a large green that slopes from back-to-front and from right-to-left. Putting requires steady nerves, even for short putts.
A long par 5 that puts a premium on strength and accuracy, playing 556 yards from the blue tee to a fairway climbing steadily uphill for almost 300 yards, 2 Center is a “three shot hole.” This mighty par 5 requires a strong tee shot and a solid second shot to the left side of the fairway to achieve the best angle. The third shot is played to an elevated, fast green, which slopes sharply from back-to-front and right-to-left. The approach shot requires precision. A bunker beyond the back of the green punishes the overly bold while a false front frustrates the timid. Missing the approach shot to the right side of the green whether in the bunker or the rough creates a major challenge to stop the ball on the glassy, severely sloped green. The New York City skyline is often visible from this green.
A long “downhill-uphill” par 4, this challenging dogleg presents a choice to relatively long hitters. A well-struck drive that hugs the left side of the fairway will go over the hill and result in a much shorter second shot that will likely be played from a severe downhill stance. Drives on the right side of the fairway may result in a level stance on the plateau but a significantly longer shot. A corridor of trees on each side of the fairway demands accuracy. A well-placed fairway bunker short left of the hole is patronized by many free swingers.
The raised green sloping from left to right and back to front presents tricky reads. It appears to be flat, but there are big swings and pin locations that make two-putting this enormous surface a tough job.
Known as the “Cemetery” hole, 4 Center is an uphill par 5 and the shortest of the Ridgewood par 5s.
The hole places a greater premium on accuracy than length. Tee shots too far to the right meet will be mourned in a neighboring graveyard. Out-of-bounds and the adjacent cemetery run along the entire right side of the hole. A well-played second shot is positioned to the left side of the elevated fairway. Tillinghast’s reward for a good second shot is the option to bounce a shot into the small, very firm green. Those playing from the right side of the fairway must carry a greenside bunker and are challenged to stop their ball in time. Shots played too aggressively from the right side often find a home in the bunker on the left side of the green.
Although the green appears to be flat, players are surprised by its subtle breaks and quickness.
A long downhill par 3 with a green that runs away from the shot, the fifth hole is a classic short hole, with a great view from the tee, playing downhill 191 yards from the blue tees to a green surrounded by extensive bunkering. The green slopes away from the tee, so holding this green is difficult, especially with long irons. Shots that don’t hold or reach the putting surface present challenging chip shots, and require a deft touch, especially from the thick rough that surrounds the green. Beware of too much courage when playing to a back pin; one firm bounce can propel the ball out-of bounds!
Known as the “Nickel and Dime”, 6 Center is Ridgewood’s shortest par 4. The hole plays only 275 yards from the blue tees but tests the mettle of even the best golfers. The short length of the hole presents a variety of options. The longest hitters can attempt to drive the green. Most players follow a two-shot strategy. Long hitters who play a driver off the tee can over hit the fairway and come to rest in gnarly, thick rough on the upslope to the green. But a poorly struck iron or rescue tee ball can find either of two fairway bunkers or thick rough. The approach shot is very tricky. A short iron shot that must be played accurately (with a soft touch) up to a small and extremely narrow “plateau green” surrounded by six deadly bunkers with those on the left side of the green the most foreboding. Failure to hit to the upper or lower tier where the flag stick is located will result in a challenging two-putt with subtle breaks that seem almost impossible to be real.
This hole claims a place on Golf Digest’s “Top 500 Best Holes in the World” and holds a place among the Sports Illustrated “Top 18 Tillinghast Holes.” The Met Golfer also rates it in their “Dream 18.” Modern legend suggests that the “Nickel and Dime” name comes from the strategy Tillinghast anticipated would be employed by the game’s best players. A Nickel (5-iron) to the fairway would be followed by a Dime (10-iron ) to the green.
A wide par 4 with a green that slopes in many directions, this beautiful hole doglegs left around the giant oaks, with an expansive fairway to the right. However, a gaping fairway bunker positioned in play on the right side requires a carry of between 205 and 230 yards from the blue tee, the farther right, the farther the carry. The hole is designed for a downhill approach that lands short and rolls onto a green that slopes severely front-to-back and left-to-right with a ridge running vertically across the green. It is a possible birdie hole, but it can just as easily be a big number if you miss the green on the left.
A short par 3 surrounded by sand, 8 Center is deceptively difficult. Hit it short, long, left or right and the odds are you will be in one of the deep bunkers that surround the green of this par 3 that plays 125 yards from the blue tee. The green slopes sharply from back-to-front. A shot hit short may spin back off the green; a shot hit long over the green will require a heroic bunker shot to save par. Hit it pin high; otherwise expect a short game adventure.
The most creatively challenging finishing hole at Ridgewood, this par 4 offers a wide, sloping left to right fairway for the tee shot. Accuracy is essential as the large overhanging trees that protect the green on both the left and right sides stand ready to swat down approach shots hit their way. The slope of the green back-to-front and left-to-right makes going at the pin very risky. Tillinghast presents a perilous option when attempting to bounce an approach shot on to the green. The severely sloped fairway just short of the green sends many promising shots into a hungry short-right bunker. An approach shot that comes to rest well above the hole presents a perilous downhill two-putt.
The view from the tee of the “hall” of huge oaks that line both sides of the fairway makes the drive on this par 4 an intimidating first swing of the round. In true Tillinghast style it offers the golfer a choice. Be bold, and favor the left side of the fairway to avoid the left-to-right slope that can channel balls into deep right-side rough. But tee balls going too far left, the dreaded snap hooks, will allow the golfer to renew acquaintances and offer apologies to colleagues on the practice putting green. Approach shots are best played from the left because of a big left-to-right swing on a deceptively fast putting surface. Approach shots from the right side must avoid a deep and dangerous bunker that guard approaches to the green from the right side.
Featuring one of the truly unique putting surfaces at Ridgewood, this hole presents another challenging tee shot that must clear a cross bunker on the left side about 160 yards from the tee, and avoid the forest of giant oaks at the right side landing area. The second shot to this visually deceptive and distinct par 4 must be well measured to avoid the ring of bunkers that encircle this huge green. You must creatively shape your approach shot to land in an area that will best channel the ball toward the hole. A ridge dividing the green into two tiers runs vertically the length of this green. Leave your ball on the wrong side of the ridge and two-putting will be a struggle.
This uphill par 3 favors the strong long iron player. It takes a well-struck ball to land and hold this putting surface, and to avoid the left-to-right tendencies that push shots into the deep bunker along the right side of the green. Bail out to the left and it could be worse, leaving a tricky chip shot to a fast green that slopes toward the bunkers. Keep it straight, because left and right won’t work. But don’t expect your shot to bounce on as a false front stop shots quickly and sends them rolling back down into the fairway.
At 586 yards from the blue, this par 5 opens with a tee shot downhill. You must aim away from the line of trees on the left but a bunker stands ready to catch balls hit too far to the right. Hit a solid drive and you will be in position to strike a strong second shot over a series of moguls covered with deep rough that run on an angle for 50-75 yards mid-hole, ending about 175 yards from the green. The result will be a mid to short iron approach shot downhill to an understated, deceptively fast and well protected by bunkers green tucked into a narrow corner of the course. Make any mistakes along the way, and you’ll understand how naturally clever are Tillinghast’s par 5 designs. This design holds a place among the Sports Illustrated “Top 18 Tillinghast Holes.” Many of Tillinghast’s top designs contain a par 5 resembling Pine Valley’s seventh, where the second shot must carry “Hell’s Half Acre,” a vast expanse of sand. Both 4 West and 3 East fit this mold.
This is the toughest approach shot at Ridgewood. The big hitters can manage the distance and the difficulty associated with positioning the drive and hitting the tough second shot uphill to a steeply elevated green… but even they have trepidations. The fifth is simply one of the most challenging holes on the golf course. It provides a generous landing area for tee shots, but the longest hitters need to avoid the cross bunker on the right side of the fairway and the deep rough on the left. The elevated triple-tier green has a severe slope from back-to-front and left-to-right, and it is common for putts to roll downhill off the front of the green into the fairway. Players who are forced to lay up and play their second shots into the valley below the elevated green must exercise caution. Shots hit to the extreme right or left of the fairway will result in approach shots have to fly over bunkers AND dodge tree limbs en route to the green. A Tillinghast characteristic of leaving a small grassy area in front of the green for a shot from the center of the fairway to bounce on is on display in this gem of a hole.
A shot-maker’s par 3, this sixth hole is a paradigm of great architecture that features a small green, slightly uphill from the tee and surrounded by several bunkers. It’s a tough green to hit though only 135 yards from the blue tee, but shots that land and stay on the putting surface will usually leave a good run for a birdie putt. Players who miss this green will have a difficult time making par, particularly if they miss left and have to chip on to a downward sloping left to right green.
Rewarding an accurate drive and a confident “blind” second shot, this par 4 features the most narrow fairway landing area for tee shots at Ridgewood. The tee shot deceptively invites the golfer to aim at the flag stick with the usual result being a ball in heavy right rough or blocked by a well-placed pine tree. But a newly added fairway bunker increases the risk to longer hitters seeking to play in from the left rough. The tee box is elevated and a good, accurate tee shot will leave a player with about a 160-yard blind approach shot to a green that sits below the fairway. Avoid the many greenside bunkers, short and left of the green, deep right, and along the right front corner and side of the green. Too much boldness on the second shot results in a ball stymied beneath bushes behind the green, or, even worse, out of bounds.
Dogleg left and long, it’s one of the great par 5’s in the game, and is rarely reachable in two shots. Long drives from an intimidating tee box must cut the dogleg (at least a little) but too far left means into the woods, out of bounds and the dreaded “reload.” An abundance of caution is also dangerous as tee balls to the right can disappear in deep rough or be blocked by a line of trees and, of course, make reaching in three shots more difficult.
A strong second shot to a narrow opening is needed to avoid the cross bunker on the left side of the fairway, and to pass the giant tulip tree that sits imposingly on the corner on the right side of the fairway. The third shot requires power and accuracy to reach a small green, carry past the false front, but not carry off the back of the green. It is wise to play to the right side of the green to negotiate the severe right-to-left swing that can channel a ball steeply downhill into dangerous bunkers. But shots going too far right can get “hung up” and the result is a difficult downhill chip from deep rough on to a severely sloping green.
Back to the “hall” of the mighty oaks, the West nine ends with an imposing dogleg right par 4 that plays 470 yards from the back tees to a fairway lined with mighty oaks on the left and right. This is the only hole on the course that gives advantage to playing a fade off the tee. Be accurate with your drive. Cut the dogleg too sharply on the right and trees will knock you straight down or worse and it will be three shots to reach the green. Hit the ball too long to the left and you could be blocked in the line of oaks or run through them into the driving range. Position “A,” left side of the fairway, provides the best angle to a green that is guarded on the left with deep bunkers and a fairway that slopes sharply right to left and feeds otherwise promising shots into the bunker. The green features a putting surface that swings right-to-left and runs quickly from back to front.